Socially Responsible and Sustainable
The beauty of our West Coast environment shapes our students' thinking
Business and Sustainability
Developing students' skills and awareness to do business sustainably and responsibly has been built into our core curricula for over 15 years. In that time, its importance has grown both in the world and in the minds of our students, faculty and staff, to the point that we have constituted it into our mission and values.
In early 2011, we launched the Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation (CSSI). As UVic's first intra-faculty centre, the CSSI focuses its efforts in three areas: research, learning and operations.
A strong contingent of faculty researches on the relationship between business and sustainability. They've investigated topics:
- in social entrepreneurship
- sustainable entrepreneurship
- indigenous entrepreneurship
- community economic development
- business and poverty
- climate change adaptation
- business strategy as it relates to sustainability, and
- teaching cases on sustainability.
Now, under the CSSI umbrella, scholars from Gustavson and beyond are exploring new territory to produce outstanding research for purposeful, positive application.
Our students learn to take an integrative approach to business problems. From core courses in sustainability to sustainability content in other core courses, electives, specializations and real world exposure through co-op terms, guest speakers and contests the school is committed to developing a generation of business leaders who think differently and act responsibly.
Student Connor Bildfell is a prime example of leadership through social entrepreneurship. Specifically, his idea was to start a magazine loaded with information about eating disorders and resources for the people who have conditions like anorexia and bulimia, and for their families and friends.
“I went through this experience,” says Bildfell who, at six foot one, once weighed 126 pounds. “It can be difficult to relate to.”
He knows first-hand how hard it can be to see the problem for oneself, and he saw his parents’ anguish as they researched ways to help him.
“I had gone to clinics,” he explains. “You sit in the waiting room and pick up a magazine…”
It seemed to him that this would be a great medium for providing “the most good for the most people,” he says. It’s also one way he can make a meaningful contribution that will help others who are still struggling.
On January 26, 2012, Bildfell seized the opportunity and pitched the idea at the campus-wide Pitch It competition, and the judges loved it – to the tune of $300. After that, he developed and honed a business plan that would stand up to fierce scrutiny – and competition from across UVic at the second entrepreneurship competition known as Plan It.
“[Plan It],” he says, “allowed me to get a different perspective, to take an analytical viewpoint.”
It also provided another win for Connor, who took home both the $2,000 second-place prize plus the $1,500 Social Value award.
For more student stories visit the CSSI student activity web pages.
At Gustavson, we believe in holding ourselves accountable for our ecological footprint and our culture. Measuring our impact is the first step; reducing it our second. We also believe in fostering a workplace of wellness for both body and mind: a collegial environment that is fair, open, engaged and passionate. A few of our actions include:
- reporting annual greenhouse gas emissions for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions
- installing water fountains to replace bottled water
- installing low-flow plumbing fixtures
- setting all printers to default double-sided printing
- recycle bins throughout building, compost program in place
- reducing automatic lighting and heating settings
Both the learning and research areas of CSSI are interrelated with these operational efforts.
Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation
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